Bang! And they’re off!

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The hard way: Des Vertus savoy cabbage under the lights downstairs (planted 2/17/08)

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The easy way: Rapini in the greenhouse (planted 1/12/08)

I have admitted I don’t like starting seeds indoors. Part of it’s the dirt: we work so hard to keep the dirt outside the house; it’s antithetical to our thinking to actually encourage it across the threshold of the back door. The other thing, I think, is the rush of it all. Seeds planted in the house have a very predictable trajectory of growth that means that, ready or not, these puppies will need to be outside in the sunshine in as few as 4 weeks. Like many things, though, I realize I need to just take my own advice and just “get over it.”

Looking hard, what I realized that bugged me so much is having the seed trays upstairs, in the relative (and cat-free) tidiness of the guest bedroom. It’s warm up there; warm enough for all the seeds to sprout quickly and happily. Seeds, you see, are a lot like us: we’d all prefer a nice warm bed to lie in. Many things do sprout at 35* (onions, lettuces, etc.) but they’ll sprout faster (and grow faster) at 65*. So what, I decided, if the basement is colder than the guest bedroom. The seeds will still sprout, albeit a bit more slowly. And I won’t beat myself up if I spill some dirt down there. And, really: what’s my hurry?

So I finally got some of the babies going this last weekend, having first bumped off the top shelf of canned goods in the basement to a lower shelf. I started the alliums (2 leeks, 3 onions, 1 scallion) and brassicas (2 broccoli, 3 kale, 1 cabbage). These guys can be stuck in the ground a good 2-3 weeks before the last frost. They may not like it, but they’ll get by. I think I will slow them down further by sticking them (in their pots) in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks, too, before I stick them in the ground.

Like not seeing one’s shadow, will planting flats of seeds make spring come more quickly? One can only hope. I’m becoming snow-blind.

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7 responses to “Bang! And they’re off!

  1. Not being a seed planter myself (oh, I could, I suppose), I tend to buy seedlings in sixpacks. There’s always more than one extra plant in a sixpack. Right now I have to eat 12 heads of broccoli, because they’re almost all ready at once.

  2. Are you using lights?

    I prefer direct sowing myself and try to start as few seeds indoors as possible. Unfortunately, we’ve been so cold that I haven’t moved my broccoli seedlings out to the cold frame soon enough, and they’re becoming very leggy.

  3. Yay CC! 12 plants of broccoli sounds about right for 2 people! (Blanch and freeze your extra sprouts after you cut off the main one: they’ll keep coming for a while. We’re still pulling broccoli out of the freezer. It’s slightly soft but I swear it tastes just fine.)

    Danielle: I am so with you, I abhor the whole process and prefer direct-seeding. Unfortunately, I do need to start the onions and leeks indoors if I want something like a July crop. They’re under a four foot shop fluorescent downstairs. I started the broccoli and kale (though I normally direct-seed those too) because I am a pig and really just too impatient. They’ll be going outside in about 2 weeks into the greenhouse.

  4. I’m a few weeks behind, but we still have to finish mounting the lights on the light stand in the basement…then hang the plastic sheets and set up the space heater and fan…and…and…and

    had intended to do leeks and onions, too and it’s time to get the broccoli, cabbage and some head lettuce started. Good thinking on the kale. I should do that and collards. I get impatient too. Maybe tomorrow. Today I’m just a menstrual wreck of a human being who can’t step away from the hot water bottle. Especially to go down into the cold basement. No thank you.

    It’s almost time to start peppers and tomatoes. Hoo boy. That’s when the big sowing starts. I do a lot of each…

  5. I’m with you on the indoor seed starting…. it just doesn’t ive with the natural flow of things, seems so forced, even to us relatively seasoned market gardeners….tomatoes and peppers will be started a few weeks early inside this year, but not put out till nearly May…coddling them under row covers wasn’t worth it. A bunch of brassicas will be started either in cold frames set up in the garden or in the first mesclun beds under floating row covers. The vast majority of our sales in the spring are mesclun, beets, carrots, and radishes and so this year I’m focusing on direct seeding those and getting our main summer crops in a little early, but not weeks and weeks ahead anymore – they just don’t want to grow in that weather anyway!

  6. I LOVE that bread …I want it : ) !!! It looks soooooooooo good. I will never be able to make it….given I am of the Y chromosome and also I suck at baking. This looks so good. You should do an online store : )

    Love your blog…

  7. Kelly, that’s exactly what I meant to avoid. I cannot stand the idea of the plastic and hanging lights and space heater, and fan, etc.; these things (excepting the light of course) aren’t absolutely direly necessary if you want to grow seeds. We seem to have it drummed in our heads that this is the only way to do it to get things in the ground on a certain day. I’m saying whoa take it easy man, let’s see if there’s a way around this madness we somehow fall into every Feb/Mar.

    Shannon! Thanks for stopping by. I know what you mean. Some things surely aren’t helped by our enthusiasm to get them in the ground. Every year I seem to have this fire to get things going, then I plant the things and they just sit there in misery. Don’t they, you know, appreciate my efforts? (No.) But every year I keep trying, despite my saying I won’t.

    Weekend farmer! Thanks! That bread is pretty good. I like your name; so often that is exactly what I feel like (a weekender) and it makes me want to quit my job.

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